Posts Tagged ‘Body of Christ’

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“DRAMA OF THE DELICATE” – June 23

June 23, 2013

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  Colossians 3:12-13

“STOP!”  The command still resonates through my ears even after thirty years.  It was not a menacing or cruel command but it was all too common.  It always was a command of necessity and a little frustration.  It was a frustration that thankfully did not originate with me but from the task at hand.

I knew what I would see upon looking in the direction of my father.  There he would be, seated at his workbench, both arms stretched out to his side with his hands in the universal sign of “don’t take another step”.  His eyes were never on any person.  They were already looking down, searching for what he had lost.

I would stop and give my dad the room  he needed.  The slow searching process had begun.  He would start with himself.  Slowly lifting each fold of his shirt to see if what was lost had landed in a crevasse.  He would work his way down from his shirt to his lap and the ridges of his chair.  All the while, the search would become a little more urgent through its descent.

If his prey was particularly elusive, my dad would take a small magnet and begin to sweep the surfaces of his workbench.  He would keep his feet and chair rigidly fixed as the magnet moved through a search pattern designed not to leave a space unexamined.

If the search proved unsuccessful, my father would carefully step from his bench and take his frustration to the floor.  He would run his magnet across the floor in an agonizingly slow hunt.  It was a colossal waste of time.  That is what frustrated my dad the most.

New old skeleton watchworks, seen through its ...

New old skeleton watchworks, seen through its crystal back (Photo credit: readerwalker)

My dad was a watchmaker.  Actually, he was a watch repairer.  This was back when watches were not powered by batteries and governed by electronics.  My dad made his living working on mechanical time-pieces that were masterpieces of tiny gears, screws, and springs.  Stores shipped their customer’s functionless watches to our house and my dad transformed the broken into the useful. However, it was always difficult to make a living being a tradesman of the watchmaker art.  The watchmaker was paid by piecemeal.  He only earned his wage when what was shipped back worked as it was intended.  Therefore, the provider of my family had the pressure of production that an adolescent will never understand.  This was the frustration that my father felt as he searched surfaces of his shop.

Molnija 3601 watch movement macroMy father’s search was most often for the tiniest of screws.  The slightest bit of excess pressure on their round surfaces could cause one to disappear as if by magic.  Time slips away when having to deal with something that was not the original problem but has become one.  Wages associated with the repair evaporate with every moment wasted in search of that which was not broken but yet essential.

A friend was recently telling me of an experience in his church that made me think of my dad’s frustration.  He told me of how a person had been offended by something that he had done in which I struggled to see the offense.  It seems to me that the particular person had to work at being offended by the actions of my friend. It was a tale that is neither unique nor uncommon.

I wonder at the amount of time spent by pastors smoothing over perceived or minor offenses within their congregations.  I don’t think I want to know the level of consideration wasted to crafting communications so as to appease the delicate.  It seems that just the slightest touch of inadvertent pressure can cause positive attitudes to disappear as if by magic.  Trouble and hurt feelings can easily arise and become an issue that engulfs the original problem.  The progress in helping the broken can be consumed in soothing the feelings of the delicate.

The drama swirling the delicate staggers me.  It wears me out.  I don’t know a church, family, group of friends, or workplace that does not contain some drama.  The reality of the pervasiveness of drama probably comes from us all being more delicate than we may want to admit.  Most of us don’t want to acknowledge that we are over-sensitive.  We resist the idea that we may have a weakness toward searching out offenses.  We may deny our skill in conjuring drama from innocent intentions.

The drama of the delicate is such a colossal waste of time and effort.  We are all forced to spend the time searching for the solution to a specific bit of drama.  The solution may appease the delicate for a time but it never usually addresses the heart issue.  Therefore, we are all trapped in this dance of being so concerned with not offending that distracts us from our real purpose in serving the broken.

Drama consumes so much energy.

We were never intended to be delicate in Christ.  We are supposed to be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, and loving.  Drama does not come from those who are bearing with one another.  Offense does not linger in those who have forgiven.  Patience soothes the over-sensitive.

Jesus did not spend a lot of time with the drama of the disciples.  He rebuked the drama when it arose.  He addressed the sinful heart condition that was exposed when His disciples acted in a particularly delicate manner.

We are to be known for our love for one another.  We should not be known for our drama.

The next time that you feel the pressure of offense, consider the colossal waste that will come from the drama building within you.  Seek the Lord and let Him soothe the delicate nature of our soul.  Let He be the comfort of your sensitive feelings.  Allow the Spirit to strengthen you and empower you to look past the failings of others and to forgive.  Let the fruit of patience and peace bless all those around you.

Allow yourself to be delicate before your Lord but be mature for the Body of Christ and strive for a drama-free life through the power of His Spirit.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for not leaving my delicate nature in your gentle hands.  Forgive me for trying to correct the offenses that I have felt.  Forgive me for my tendency to think of myself more than others.  Lord, give me compassion and meekness.  Help me to be kind and forgive.  Grant me humility and enable me to bear with others.  Father, I need you to fill me with the power of your Spirit so that I can walk in a drama-free life.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“MEANS TO AN END” – April 14

April 14, 2013

“O Israel, hope in the Lord!  For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.” Psalm 130:7

It is just a means to an end.

That is a saying that I have uttered on many an occasion.  This saying has been applied to countless insignificant, meaningless, or unpleasant activities that are completed in order to obtain a greater purpose.  The greater purpose is the goal and the lesser activities are the means or method by which the goal is obtained.  It is a principle that is used all the time.

Someone may have a goal of being a corporate CEO.  The means to becoming the CEO is working all the various positions on the corporate ladder as they climb up to obtain the primary goal.  Many of those jobs are not very rewarding.  However, the CEO is the end; all the jobs along the way are the means.  That is why they do them.

Someone may have a goal of becoming an elected official.  The means to getting elected is going to all those political party functions, the “meet and greets”, the shaking hands, and the baby kissing.  Campaigning can be exhausting.  However, being elected is the end; the campaigning is the means.  That is why it is done.

Someone may have the goal of becoming fit.  The means to getting fit is eating less and exercising more.  Working out is not that enjoyable.  Eating less and healthy is not very satisfying.  However, being fit is the end; working out and watching what you eat is the means.  That is why it is done.

I think that everyone understands that it takes means to reach desired ends.  However, there is a problem when we allow this mentality to drift into our relationships.

People are never means.  People are always ends.

English: Broken Heart symbolThere is so much heartache that comes from people being treated as means to achieve some other end.  People are often tossed aside when they have served their purpose.

The friend who is no longer called because better ones have been found;

The girlfriend who is dumped after she has given herself;

The boyfriend who is broken off because there are better options;

The colleague who is abandoned since he is no longer of an advantage;

The friendship that is pursued because of connections;

The spouse who is left for a new source of happiness.

It is an unloving attitude to treat another person as a means; to treat them as a pawn in a grand strategy of obtaining a greater purpose.  We are told that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.  The goal for every person who we engage is to encourage, edify, teach, and train.  The people with whom we interact should be better for that experience.  They should be more joyful, more peaceful, and happier; they should feel like they have experienced kindness, gentleness, and goodness.  They should know that they are loved after they have spent time with us.  That is our end with other people.  Our neighbor’s best is the end; love is the means.

In much the same way, God is never the means. God is always the end.

Many people seek out God to get something.  They come to Him with expectations and when those expectations are not fulfilled they leave Him.

They seek God to make their life better;

They want God to repair their marriage and/or relationships;

They want God to give them wealth and connections;

They want God to make them feel better about themselves;

They want God to keep them out of hell.

They seek God for the purpose of obtaining those other things.  They are not seeking God because He is God.  We are told that the greatest commandment is to love God.  Our primary purpose is to bring glory to God for who He is and what He has done.  We bring God the greatest glory that is possible from us when we love Him with all that we are, think, and do.  Bringing God the glory that He is due is the end; our love is the means.

In God’s plan, I am never the end; I am always the means.

I put myself in a bad place when I make myself an end.  I was never intended to be my own personal end.  I cannot be following the greatest of commandments when I have made myself an end.

We are making ourselves the end when we say things like, “I deserve <fill in the blank>; to be loved, to be happy, to be respected, to be appreciated, to be acknowledged, to be rewarded, to be feared.  The results of not having our blank filled in, the way we want, is often anger, jealousy, envy, gossip, and coveting. Those sins are the fruit of making ourselves the end. We were never intended to be our own personal end; we have always been the means for showing love to God and others.

The good news is that we do not have to feel left out.  One of the blessings of Christian community, as God intended, is that other believers will be interacting with you as their end.  They will be showing you love as their means of encouraging and edifying you. This is one of the reasons that living within the Church, the body of Christ, is so important to our souls.  It is when we pull away from those whose end is our best that we begin to start looking out for ourselves and our own personal ends; only bad results will come from that.  We need to allow the means of other believers to work to their desired ends in our lives.

Now, we all know that the church is imperfect.  Other believers can let us down.  Other Christians often have their ends very confused and do a horrible job of loving their neighbors.  We can come away after interacting with some church folk and be discouraged and feeling unloved.  We need to learn to forget ourselves and understand that they don’t owe us anything.  Their actions are often the result of sin and/or immaturity.  Remember, they are our end; not our means.  We do not need to rely upon them.  We can rest assured that we will never be left abandoned in an emotional wasteland.  God is always for us.

We are God’s end; His love is the means.

We are children of God.  There is nothing that can prevent Him from showing His love to His children.  He knows what we need.  He knows that we need His peace, contentment, encouragement, and love.  He knows how to give His children good gifts.  When we make ourselves our personal ends, we are declaring our unbelief in the sufficiency of God.

We can trust God to fulfill us.

We can trust God to sustain our self-esteem.

We can trust God to give us happiness.

We are in the hands God.  He is merciful and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He is faithful and can be trusted with our emotional well-being.  It is a small thing for the creator of the universe to fill you and me with joy.

We just need to trust Him with our hearts.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for showing me your steadfast love.  Thank you for not leaving me to rely upon myself.  Thank you for being sufficient in all ways.  Lord, help be to show your love to my neighbors.  Forgive me for being manipulative of other people and not loving them like I should.  Lord, I pray that I will be a blessing to all those I meet and that they will feel loved by your steadfast love flowing through me. Amen.

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